The cost of ad blocking
PageFair and Adobe 2015 Ad Blocking Report
In the third annual ad blocking report, PageFair, with the help of Adobe, provides updated data on the scale and growth of ad blocking
software usage and highlights the global and regional economic impact associated with it. Additionally, this report explores the early
indications surrounding the impact of ad blocking within the mobile advertising space and how mobile will change the ad blocking
PAGEFAIR AND ADOBE | 2015 Ad Blocking Report
Table of Contents
3. Key insights
4. Global ad blocking growth
5. Usage of ad blocking software in the United
6. Usage of ad blocking software in Europe
7. The cost of blocking ads
8. Eﬀect of ad blocking by industry
9. Google Chrome still the main driver of ad
10. Mobile is yet to be a factor in ad blocking
11. Mobile will facilitate future ad blocking
12. Reasons to start using an ad blocker
ad revenue blocked
YoY global growth
Q2 2014 - Q2 2015
of mobile Firefox
users block ads
Average MAUs in the United
States Q2 2015
More consumers block ads, continuing the strong growth rates seen during 2013 and 2014.
• Globally, the number of people using ad blocking software grew by 41% year over year.
• 16% of the US online population blocked ads during Q2 2015.
• Ad block usage in the United States grew 48% during the past year, increasing to 45 million monthly active
users (MAUs) during Q2 2015.
• Ad block usage in Europe grew by 35% during the past year, increasing to 77 million monthly active users
during Q2 2015.
• The estimated loss of global revenue due to blocked advertising during 2015 was $21.8B.
• With the ability to block ads becoming an option on the new iOS 9, mobile is starting to get into the ad
blocking game. Currently Firefox and Chrome lead the mobile space with 93% share of mobile ad blocking.
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Blocking ads continues to build on the strong growth rates seen during 2013 and
• Globally, usage of ad blockers grew by 41% YoY (Q2 2014 - Q2 2015).
• As of June 2015, there were 198 million monthly active users for the major browser extensions
that block ads.
Global Ad Blocking Growth
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Usage of ad blockers in the United States grew by 48% during
the past year, increasing to 45 million average monthly active
users in Q2 2015.
• Oregon has the highest ad blocking rate in the United States at 16.4%.
• Washington DC has the lowest ad blocking rate in the United States at
Usage of ad blocking software
in the United States
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Ad block usage in Europe grew by 35% during the past year,
increasing to 77 million monthly active users in Q2 2015.
• Ad block usage in the UK increased by 82% during the past year, reaching
12 million average monthly active users in Q2 2015.
• Ad block usage in Germany increased by 17% during the past year,
reaching 18 million average monthly active users in Q2 2015.
• Greece has the highest rate of ad block usage in Europe.
• Slovakia has the lowest rate of ad block usage in Europe.
Usage of ad blocking software
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• Ad block usage in the United States resulted in an estimated $5.8B in
blocked revenue during 2014. It is expected to cost $10.7B in 2015 and
$20.3B in 2016.
• The global cost of ad blocking is expected to be $41.4B by 2016.
The bottom line
Although the 198 million MAUs in Q2 2015 represents only 6% of the
global internet population, ad blocking is estimated to cost over $21B in
2015, which is 14% of the global ad spend..
The Cost of Blocking Ads
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• Visitors to gaming websites are significantly more likely to block
• Visitors to health, charity, and government/legal websites are
significantly less likely to block advertising.
Eﬀect of ad blocking by industry
The bottom line
Ad blocking behavior on websites is a function of audience demographics. Websites
that cater to young, technically savvy, or more male audiences are significantly worse
PAGEFAIR AND ADOBE | 2015 Ad Blocking Report 8
The ease with which ad block extensions can be installed on
Google Chrome, combined with the continuing shift of internet
users to Chrome for browsing, are major drivers of ad block growth.
• Ad block use on Chrome increased 51% from Q2 2014 to Q2 2015, reaching
126 million average monthly active users.
• Ad block use on Firefox increased 17%, reaching 48 million average monthly
• Ad block use on Safari increased 71%, reaching 9 million average monthly
The bottom line
Over the last seven years, Chrome has steadily captured mainstream browsing
market share away from Internet Explorer. It is well known that Google’s primary
business is in online advertising; ironically, Google’s own browser appears to be
bringing ad blocking to the masses.
Google Chrome still the main
driver of ad block growth
PAGEFAIR AND ADOBE | 2015 Ad Blocking Report 9
Although a large portion of online browsing is performed from mobile devices,
mobile ad blocking is still very underdeveloped. The release of iOS 9 in the Fall
of 2015 may be a game changer, as it will allow users to easily install ad blocking
from the App Store.
• In Q2 2015, mobile accounted for 38% of all web browsing
• Only 1.6% of ad block traﬃc on the PageFair network in Q2 2015 was from
The bottom line
As technology develops and ad blocking plug-ins become more commonplace,
the growth in ad blocking usage will receive yet another catalyst. This has the
potential to challenge the viability of the web as a platform for the distribution of
free ad-supported content
Mobile is yet to be a factor
in ad blocking growth
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The Adblock Plus app, which can be manually installed on Android
devices, enables users to block ads within Chrome. The Firefox
mobile browser, which is available directly from Google Play,
allows users to install ad blocking extensions.
• During Q2 2015, 40% of mobile ad blocking comes from Firefox users who
had installed an extension to block ads.
• In June 2015, 16% of Firefox users on Android had configured ad blocking
from within their browser settings.
The bottom line
Mobile Safari represents 52% of the mobile browsing market (and 14% of total
web browsing). With support for ad block apps in iOS 9, we expect ad blocking
on mobile Safari to trend towards the levels seen in the mobile version of Firefox.
Mobile will facilitate future
ad blocking growth
PAGEFAIR AND ADOBE | 2015 Ad Blocking Report 11
Reasons to start using an ad
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We surveyed 400 respondents in the US and asked them to
weigh in on ad blocking. Of the respondents who are not
currently using an ad blocking extension, we asked what would
cause them to change their minds.
• Misuse of personal information was the primary reason to enable ad
• An increase in the number of ads was more important among
• 1 in 4 respondents aged 35-49 do not have any desire to ever use ad
Afterword by Sean Blanchfield, Co-founder & CEO PageFair
Between 2009 and 2012, my co-founders and I were in the
web-game business. While investigating some advertising
discrepancies, we were shocked to discover that nearly 1 in 3 of our loyal visitors
were blocking ads. As games publishers, we were merely the canary in the tunnel.
Ad blocking had blindsided us, and was about to blindside publishers in every other
vertical. By Summer 2012 we had launched PageFair to develop a solution before it
put us all out of business.
Nearly three years later, our predictions have been borne out. More than 2000
websites, including many of the Comscore 50, have used PageFair to measure and/
or fix their ad blocking problem. In this report we show that usage of ad blocking
extensions wiped out approximately $11 billion of publisher revenue in 2014. It has
grown by over 40% in the last 12 months, and is set to move to the mobile web,
before going in-app.
Fighting ad blocking is extremely diﬃcult. The ad block community is large,
sophisticated and resourceful. Companies who try to play “cat and mouse” against
blocked ads quickly lose. A deeper problem is that ad blocking is endemic only
because online advertising has become so invasive that hundreds of millions of
people are willing to take matters into their own hands. To sustainably solve ad
blocking, we must treat these users with respect, not force feed them the popovers,
interstitials and video ads that they are trying to get rid of.
After three years of hard work, we have now crafted a set of unique patent-pending
technologies that finally solve the ad block problem. We believe our solution is “firm
but fair”. It allows publishers to recover revenue, while treating ad block users as
valued audience members. Meanwhile, it allows users to enjoy a quality experience
without inadvertently putting their favourite websites out of business. If this sounds
like a solution you need, please get in touch with us.
Afterword by Campbell Foster, Director Product Marketing, Adobe
When I first met Sean Blanchfield in March, 2014, I was struck by his
level-headed, clear-eyed analysis of ad blocking. At the time, ad blocking
was more of an issue in the UK and continental Europe, and I hadn’t put too much
thought into the potential impact of this innocent browser add-on. Our discussions
with Sean and his colleagues at PageFair helped me and my colleagues at Adobe
better understand the delicate balance between three constituent rights-holders:
Content publishers, who have a right to profit from their legally produced, owned and
distributed product; Advertisers, who have a right to communicate with consumers;
and Consumers, who have a right to choose what they read, listen to, learn and feel. It
remains a delicate balance, with no obvious solutions or easy answers.
Adobe Primetime’s customers – the largest broadcasters, cable networks and content
distributors in the world – express frustration and ambivalence about the issue,
alternating between tacit acceptance of ad blocker installations among a small
minority of its users, on the one hand, and on the other, a desire to declare all-out war
on the companies that profit from ad blocking. Advertisers wish to continue
connecting with consumers, but understand that a broadly targeted campaign, or
poorly executed creative, risks alienating more people than it charms. Consumers, for
the most part, accept the tradeoﬀ that comes with “free” – I’ll give you information
about me in exchange for your TV show, film, news article, or service – but draw the
line at advertising that’s intrusive, annoying, irrelevant or downright creepy. And so it
No matter your views on whose rights trump whose, the economic impact of ad
blocking is real and measureable. Our goal with this research is to shed light on the
eﬀects of ad blocking so the industry can develop better solutions for content
publishers, advertisers and consumers alike. In so doing, we hope we can do our part
to make consumption of digital content on any screen a little bit cleaner, friendlier, and
more enlightening. We hope you’ll help.
PAGEFAIR AND ADOBE | 2015 Ad Blocking Report 13
PageFair is the leader in ad block solutions for website publishers. PageFair
Analytics is used by over 2000 publishers to measure their exposure to ad
blocking. PageFair technology is used by many premium publishers to restore
blocked ad inventory. PageFair Ads is a self-serve advertising platform that
displays non-intrusive ad formats to ad block users.
Find out more at pagefair.com and follow @pagefair on Twitter.
What is ad blocking?
Ad blocking extensions, browsers, VPNs or DNS solutions act like a firewall between the web browser and all known ad servers. Most ads are
blocked by open-source web browser extensions, installed by end users. The database of blocked ad servers is curated by a large and active
open source community. The most popular ad block extensions are “Adblock Plus” and “AdBlock”. Once installed, these extensions
automatically block ads on all websites and are eﬀective against almost all ad formats.
About Adobe Primetime
Adobe Primetime brings TV to every IP-connected screen. It gives
programmers and operators modular capabilities to stream, protect, analyze,
and monetize video across desktops and devices. Finally, you can profitably
broadcast live, linear, and video-on-demand programming everywhere.
Find out more at adobe.com/primetime and follow @AdobePrimetime.
PAGEFAIR AND ADOBE | 2015 Ad Blocking Report 14
US share of ads blocked by state (Q2 2015)
State Oregon Washington Vermont Nevada Delaware California Idaho New Hampshire Alaska Utah Arizona
MAU’s 16.4% 15.5% 15.0% 14.8% 14.8% 14.4% 14.4% 14.4% 14.3% 14.2% 14.1%
Month Massachusetts New Jersey North Dakota Indiana Iowa Wisconsin Rhode Island Hawaii Maine Minnesota Michigan
MAU’s 14.1% 14.0% 13.9% 13.8% 13.8% 13.8% 13.7% 13.7% 13.5% 13.5% 13.5%
Month Ohio New York West Virginia Maryland Oklahoma Georgia New Mexico Kansas Pennsylvania Montana Missouri
MAU’s 13.5% 13.4% 13.3% 13.3% 13.2% 13.2% 13.2% 13.0% 12.8% 12.8% 12.8%
Month Arkansas Florida North Carolina Louisiana Illinois South Carolina Colorado Texas Tennessee Connecticut Alabama
MAU’s 12.7% 12.7% 12.7% 12.6% 12.6% 12.5% 12.5% 12.4% 12.2% 11.9% 11.8%
Month South Dakota Mississippi Nebraska Kentucky Wyoming Virginia District of Columbia
MAU’s 11.6% 11.5% 11.1% 11.1% 10.7% 10.5% 8.2%
Share of internet users using ad blocking software across Europe by country (Q2 2015)
Country Greece Poland Malta Estonia Germany Sweden Denmark Hungary
Kingdom Austria Portugal Finland Slovenia Croatia
MAU’s 37.50% 34.90% 27.70% 25.30% 25.30% 25.10% 23.30% 23.20% 21.10% 20.90% 20.80% 19.30% 19.30% 19.20%
Country Lithuania Romania Ireland Bulgaria Spain Latvia Cyprus Netherlands Luxembourg Italy Belgium Czech Republic France Slovakia
MAU’s 19.20% 18.00% 17.70% 16.00% 16.00% 14.70% 14.30% 13.90% 13.70% 12.90% 12.00% 10.90% 10.30% 8.90%
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